How Plick embraces Open Banking and grows in the meantime

One of the fintech players who has best interpreted the philosophy of open banking with concreteness and initiative is PayDo. We asked their CEO Donato Vadruccio to tell us about the steps taken so far with Plick, his vision and plans for the future.

Open Banking in Italy. How is it developing from your point of view and what could still be done?

Open Banking is an unstoppable process because it is useful to all actors giving them the ability to offer the best services to users allowing the acceleration of innovation. The model, initially born in Europe on the basis of needs and intuitions, has seen a recent acceleration thanks to the European directive PSD2. Although Open Banking in Italy is now a reality, at present its concrete implementation seems to be lower than in other European countries.
We can say that the great challenge of digital transformation, necessary for our country’s system, passes through both Open Banking and API with the support of the fintech ecosystem which is in turn able to be a partner in the realization of this great opportunity of acceleration for the banking system, from credit to payments just to name a few examples.
Open Banking is synonymous with collaboration. In my opinion, we need to build a lot in the co-creation of useful services for companies and end-users.This can be achieved with more joint input from the different actors, banks, fintechs, companies, etc. In addition, some of the ongoing PSD2 interventions will simplify access and use of services.
In short, Open Banking can make a decisive contribution to the process of digitisation of financial services, but, above all,it can bring great added value to households and businesses.

How did Plick seize the Open Banking opportunity?

Open Banking represents the natural path for those who, like us, are fintech operators and provide high value-added services to Banks, Payment Institutions and Electronic Money Institutions throughout Europe and can seize the opportunity provided by Open Innovation.
We have built a flexible infrastructure, which operates exclusively through APIs. We immediately seized the opportunity to publish our APIs on the main Open Banking platforms in order to shape open initiatives. On the one hand, this model facilitates the technical activation of Banks, Payment Institutions and also companies that use these platforms and, at the same time, enables the creation of high value-added services based on customisation, including process customisation.
I would like to remind you that PayDo with Plick has all the requirements to be a concrete partner, whose objective is to support and be an enabler, and not a competitor. We enable simplified payments, which are very useful for companies and individuals, with the possibility of affecting the processes related to the payment itself.

Which collaborations have you undertaken with both banks and platforms and with what results?

At the moment there are several banks and IMELs, in Italy and abroad, with whom we collaborate and to whom we provide our platform with different services, both for their retail and corporate clients. As far as Open Banking platforms are concerned, our APIs are present on Fabrick, Nexi Open and Cedacri, which are synonymous with guarantee and competence, and represent a further sign of trust for us. As mentioned earlier, the concrete result of these collaborations is mainly the advantage of simple integration and, in particular, the possibility of jointly building customised solutions, based on the specific needs of banks, IMELs or companies. These solutions often solve the need for optimisation of processes and underlying information, and not only of the payment in the strict sense of the word, which is obviously simplified thanks to Plick, which sends it via WhatsApp, SMS or email even without knowing the IBAN, throughout Europe and even in bulk.
This collaboration has enabled Open Banking platforms to implement solutions for businesses: for example, it guarantees mass mailings, such as in the case of refunds to customers by utilities or consumer credit companies or claims payments for insurance companies.

What are your next projects?

We are working on further consolidating our business in Italy, thanks to the partners who continue to choose us. We will continue to develop new services, such as the very recent “Digital Letter of Credit”, which was initially created to meet the specific needs of a biomedical company. We will soon be announcing new partnerships to support payment solutions and in some cases specific supply chains that will further demonstrate the open nature of our project.

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Virtual Branch: in 24 hours digital wins over social distance

Fabrick and Bandyer have launched Virtual Branch, a solution that allows banks and corporates to continue to be operational in the relationship with the client, despite the restrictions due to the coronavirus. It is a service created to meet the needs of companies and banks in an emergency but not an end in itself and not even limited in time because at the conclusion of the period of social distance the product created by the partnership with Bandyer can be branded and used in everyday life as a useful alternative.

In this double interview Filippo Rocca (Bandyer) and Alberto Mussinatto (Fabrick) tell us about the potential of Virtual Branch and what can be achieved thanks to open banking and an open ecosystem like Fabrick’s one.

Filippo Rocca, CEO and Founder of Bandyer

What is the Virtual Branch solution for? Who is it for?

The Virtual Branch solution is aimed at all the realities that are currently in difficulty in the relationship with their customers and need a fast and simple response to enable an effective communication from the digital point of view, opening a collaborative channel and not only communicative. For those who have fallen behind on this aspect, Virtual Branch represents an opportunity to make a quick digital leap forward, a necessary leap to ensure the continuation of business activities today. This emergency will change behavioral and consumption patterns in the long term, not only in the short term. Many critical issues will emerge, but also many opportunities. Those who have not yet developed digital channels will have to meet the demands of their customers who will increasingly want to be able to operate remotely and avoid physically visiting the company to use their services. Virtual Branch is the solution to this problem.

What is different from other video collaboration solutions?

Bandyer does not aim to create a product of UCC, unified communication and collaboration, of which the market is saturated. The partnership with Fabrick proves it. Virtual Branch aims to enable all its features, through its REST Api and SDK, within financial environments. We are today the most flexible and fastest solution to integrate. Virtual Branch was born as a response to this contingency period in which we realize that giving a simple solution without installation, unlike many players known on the market that very often require to install software and/or plug-ins for proper operation, completely web based not only from PC but also from smartphone. With our product just one click and you’re on call! Through Virtual Branch we want to show the importance of digital channels within the relationship with its customers, and at the same time highlight the technological goodness of our solutions, to then push the integration of our technology within the company’s apps and websites to engage their customers from the applications they already use daily.

Effort and timing of adoption by banks/customer companies and how can it evolve in the future (after the current emergency)?

The adoption times of this solution are extremely fast, less than 24h, and do not require the installation of any software component and/or plug-in for proper operation. We strongly believe in the adoption of these tools by financial realities because they ensure a lasting and effective relationship with their customers. This emergency will change behavioural and consumption patterns and the increasingly used digital channels will enable a series of remote “opportunities”. Integrating them within their own solutions can prevent the customer from perceiving a change of application and always remaining within the reference solution. It is said that history is a very good teacher but it has bad pupils, we hope that we can learn from this to evolve how we use our services.

Alberto Mussinatto, Strategy and Business Developer at Fabrick

What role did open banking play in the creation/launch of this solution? And what future scenarios does it open up to?

The collaboration with Bandyer, one of the first partners of Fabrick’s Open Platform ecosystem, was born from a common vision. We are both convinced that one of the bases for the development of open banking is the possibility, in addition to innovating current technological solutions, to build concrete use cases to enable new forms of relationship and interaction with their customers. Today the need to minimize physical interactions is combined with the need to ensure business continuity and also to strengthen the relationship with its customers. In this difficult situation it has emerged the possibility, by combining the respective visons and technological capabilities, to enable a new channel in which to channel to customers all the value of advice and relationship that is normally generated in a physical interaction in a branch. For this reason we decided to call the service “Virtual Branch“.

How does the launch of Virtual Branch fit into Fabrick’s business strategy?

In such a rapidly evolving context, we have first of all thought about how to respond quickly to our clients’ needs, and for this reason with Bandyer we have defined a very light technological set-up that allows you to be live with the Virtual Branch solution in 24 hours. This rapid response is part of a broader strategic framework in which our role as a platform is both supporting and enabling the evolution of the digital channels and tools of financial institutions serving private and corporate client segments that, especially at this stage, are proving to be very reactive to digital transformations. The Virtual Branch service therefore aims to be the test-bed for several use cases related to the digitization of physical networks. This will lead to the subsequent integration of the tool in white label by the institutions, with the aim of enabling a new way of providing the services of their corporate networks as well as their digital services while maintaining a high level of experience and a human relationship.

How has the COVID19 emergency affected Fabrick’s development of new services/products with its partners/producers?

The COVID19 emergency has certainly also had an impact on our development strategy/products and services, especially in relation to the multiple possibilities to respond to new needs with the different use cases available and under development with our partners. In fact we have witnessed a strong acceleration and awareness of demand especially towards some services, in some cases already available in others still under development.
We have adopted a two-step approach, a first mainly tactical phase in which we have quickly prepared enabling solutions with our partners, and the Virtual Branch is the first example, available very quickly. We are trying to ground further solutions at a different level of maturity in the areas of e-commerce, e-payments and in some specific cases specific support to institutions.
At this stage, in addition to putting the maximum effort into the development of rapidly deployable services, we are working closely with all ecosystem partners to build medium-term solutions that will support financial institutions and enterprises at the end of the COVID19 emergency. At this stage, we are developing some new specific services dedicated to financial institutions and enterprises in the credit, insurance and data analytics sectors to support the restart of the sectors that have been most affected by this emergency, such as tourism and physical retail.

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Vidyasoft: interview with Roberto Vergallo

Vidyasoft is a spin-off of the University of Salento born in 2015 from the entrepreneurial initiative of 4 research professors and an associate professor, all in the field of software engineering. The goal of Vidyasoft is the commercialization of the Wox product, an online platform for the Internet of Things that allows to speed up incredibly the development of scenarios and applications for the Internet of Things. Wox is the result of the members’ research activities and can be defined, as Roberto Vergallo, founder of Vidyasoft, suggests: as “the LEGO of the IoT”.

Vidyasoft also has a business unit dedicated to consulting which has allowed the company to grow very quickly and hire 7 employees. There are currently 12 of them. “This business unit – explains Vergallo – also allows us to listen to the constantly evolving needs of the market as well as to sell the vertical applications of the Wox product such as Vow, the voice assistant of Vidyasoft”.

Unlike the most famous vocal assistants available on the market, such as Amazon and Alexa, Vow is completely independent and can be used in 4.0 industry scenarios instead of in the world of consumers, such as those of competitors. “The first customers we proposed it to seemed very interested”.

In the coming months, there will be opportunities to present it even more as Vidyasoft will be present at the Retail Forum 2019 participating in the Startup Gate at the end of October, giving it the opportunity to get in direct contact with the players in the retail sector. In the autumn it will be at the Salone dei Pagamenti and, as far as the more technical part is concerned, at the Codemotion and Pragma conference in Bologna, concerning the world of Apple.

In the meantime, he has been working on international projects since the inception of this project. “The first application we made – says Vergallo – was for energy sustainability in California, Los Angeles. Another application we have made and are continuing to make is an app, iDubai, wanted directly by the sheikh of the city of Dubai. It’s a kind of Tripadvisor social requested specifically for the international exhibition of 2020. For the future, we have already begun to explore the Chinese market, thanks to a fair in which we participated in China together with the Puglia Region. Now we are trying to present the same experience in Japan”.

In May 2019 Vidyasoft joined the Fintech District community, both for networking, a very important component as a B2B company, and furthermore as this step is the natural continuation of a process begun in 2016 with Banca Sella and SellaLab, the year in which we won the first Fintech Acceleration Program. Sometime later it created the first voice banking system in Italy for Banca Sella and in January 2019 Fabrick entered the share capital of Vidyasoft.

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Distribute mutual funds through the blockchain. Gimme5’s Word!

A come A will distribute mutual funds in Italy through the blockchain. This feature has been tested on Gimme5, the company’s app to invest and save starting from 5 euros; the first saving app interested in exploiting the blockchain.

Thanks to this new feature, Gimme5 will be able to carry out subscription and redemption transactions of mutual fund units and related payments in real time using smart contracts based on the blockchain.

AcomeA carried out the test through Fundsquare’s FundsDLT platform, based on blockchain technology, and through Fabrick‘s Open Banking platform. The positive result obtained shows that it is possible to simplify as much as possible the execution of transactions and that the blockchain is able to bring efficiency and cost-effectiveness in the processing of orders on investment funds.

To find out more, we interviewed the real protagonists of this project, two members of the Gimme5 team who work behind the scenes and are not often asked about the results achieved: the Lead Developer and the Gimme5 Data Manager. Fabio Arlati and Giuseppe Codazzi, tell us about this historic result and the first subscription of mutual fund shares in Italy through blockchain technology.

What exactly is the test you carried out?

The test consisted of the reception, valorization and registration of transactions for the purchase of fund shares exploiting the potential of FundsDLT and Fabrick. This allowed Gimme5 to test a cheaper, faster, more efficient, and, thanks to the very nature of Smart Contracts, certified process.

What does it mean for the fintech sector?

Apart from the obvious technological and innovation aspects, the most important achievement is the collaboration with Fundsquare and Fabrick. With the success obtained, we have demonstrated that fintech can be a concrete sector with strong cooperation between the parties, benefitting the industry itself and its customers.

In Italy, our test it is the first one, but in Europe, several European groups operating in the asset management sector have already conducted similar experiments with FundsDLT; however, it is the first time in Europe that more players in the fintech panorama have been involved.

What benefits will it bring to users?

As this is the first test, the timing of approval and change will be long because it is necessary to innovate also in terms of process management. The first advantage will certainly be the level of usability of the service. The user will be able to enjoy an alternative and more efficient purchase method, which can be completed in a shorter time period. Furthermore, there is the argument of costs: Gimme5 has already cancelled or reduced all costs to a minimum, including operational costs. This lighter infrastructure will further increase the benefits for our customers.

How will your business change after this result?

Undoubtedly, the use of such a model can guarantee Gimme5 to exploit an increasingly efficient infrastructure, both in terms of process management, times, and costs. Moreover, the fact that all three players involved want to be platforms speaks volumes in terms of future objectives. Gimme5 has always been in favour of opening up to new partners and also to new markets: we have international aspirations.

What were the strengths of the collaboration with the other two platforms? And the most critical aspects?

The strengths are certainly linked to cooperation. Each one of us brings the best to the entire supply chain, making the process more efficient in all the aspects. In fintech, there is a real opportunity to work as a team and I believe that this has already been an excellent starting point.

There were no particularly delicate moments. Of course, there was a lot of attention for the timing. In projects of this kind, with three players involved, each one rightly had its own objectives and priorities. It all started almost a year ago, we have come a long way since then and will certainly continue to do so.

Are you looking for any information about Gimme5? Read the interview with product manager Flavio Talarico

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Talent Day, with the Politecnico of Milan

Five companies selected by the Fintech District each prepared a biz.game on which more than 40 students from the Politecnico of Milan worked on for a month and a half. They presented their solution during the final event in which the winner was proclaimed. This was the Talent Day, co-organized by Fintech District and the Politecnico of Milan!

Created to promote opportunities for integration at a professional level, this initiative allowed students to get closer to and learn about the Fintech world, identifying the most important players and the diverse opportunities offered by the ecosystem. At the same time, by connecting Fintech companies in search of human capital with undergraduates, it served as a facilitator for the recruitment of young talents.

The companies involved – Fabrick, Wavenure, Splitty Pay, Walliance and Modefinance – developed a biz.game related to their own model and subsequently mentored the team along the way, guiding and supporting them during the development of biz.game. Each team had students coming from the Faculties of Management Engineering, Computer Science and Mathematics and having the profiles of Data Scientists, Project Managers, and Developers.

The young participants, who were enthusiastic about Talent Day, found the experience “an excellent opportunity to get involved and confront a new reality, looking for winning ideas”. Each case study was an adventure in itself but the biz.games were interesting with the tutors both present and motivating.

“I think the world of Fintech is a world with great prospects for future engineers – Daniele Marazzina, math professor at Politecnico of Milan, commented at the end of the event – this is why we wanted to allow our students to meet the world of startups and try to actually ‘touch’ and feel the job opportunities. The Fintech District was the ideal partner for this, together we were able to make the meeting of Polimi students with some very interesting Fintechs take place”.

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